The Committee considered the Call-in of a Cabinet decision on the Pan Staffordshire Approach to Children and Young Peoples Emotional Wellbeing and Mental Health, which was made on 21 November 2018.
Councillor Susan Woodward, the Lead Member who had called in the Cabinet decision asked, with the Chairman’s agreement, Cllr Charlotte Atkins to explain the reasons for the call-in as she had attended the Healthy Staffordshire Select Committee when the report had been considered for pre-decision scrutiny. Cllr C Atkins explained that in her opinion, the strategy:
1. Insufficiently focussed on the voices of children and young people. She explained that “the Local Transformation Plan stated that effective development of preventative approaches to children and young people’s emotional wellbeing would require the continued commitment to the voices of children and young people informing the direction that preventative services take”. She felt that this was in contradiction with the infographic in the report which said that children want to talk more about mental health in schools and they also say that they don’t know how to access mental health support.
2. There is a lack of evidence of any robust engagement or collaboration with Staffordshire schools to develop school based programmes to support early intervention with pupils and parents. This is despite such intervention being identified as vital to promote emotional wellbeing among children and young people and to prevent issues from escalating into more serious mental health conditions later in life. Again, school intervention was expressed as a priority in the Local Transformation Plan. It was considered that the ‘Next Steps’ within the Strategy lacked ambition and appeared to rely on the trail blazer funding bid being successful. She asked how schools had been engaged, what evidence was there of an improvement in outcomes following engagements, what was happening regarding future funding and how is progress being monitored?
3. It was felt that the main recommendations and conclusions of the All Party Member Group (APMG) Innovation Report into the mental health and wellbeing of young people had been disregarded. Schools are a key part of a children’s lives and make the biggest difference. Councillor Atkins stated that the paper was a health model not a whole systems approach, which was needed.
Councillor Hewitt, on behalf of the Chair of the Healthy Staffordshire Select Committee, informed the Committee that on 29 October 2018 the Committee had considered the report for pre-decision scrutiny. The NHS had been invited to the meeting but unfortunately were unable to attend the meeting with the Cabinet Member but they had agreed to attend future meetings. The Strategy had been explained as well as the commissioning intentions. The Committee had asked for a six-month update report including the delivery plan and results of the trailblazer bid.
Councillor Sutton, Cabinet Member for Children and Young People explained the background to the Strategy. The Strategy had been developed with Stoke on Trent City Council and the six Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCG) across Staffordshire and had been developed alongside the National Policy Context and the Local Policy Document. The Strategy was not a delivery plan, this would be developed separately.
In response to the concerns raised by Councillor Atkins, the Cabinet Member listed the consultation methods which had taken place with young people. Briefly this included: the Youth Debate in November 2017; the Children and Young People Parent and Carers’ survey; Online questionnaires; The National Make Your Mark Survey results 2017; the Young People’s Voice report 2016; Children and Young Peoples Joint Strategic Needs Assessment; tier two participation groups; service users engagement and care leavers’ experiences. All key messages from these sources had fed into the strategy.
In relation to the school consultation and engagement, between May and July 2018 over 100 educational partners/organisations had been engaged through the national Mental Health in Schools Link Programme with the aim of sharing expertise and developing a joint vision. The feedback and key messages from the schools had been collected and again been fed into the strategy. The Green paper on transforming children and young people’s mental health provision, and the trail blazer bid results were awaited. The locality place based commissioning plans had been consulted on with Head teachers.
The Cabinet Member informed the Committee that the APMG report had not been ratified by Cabinet at this stage however, the group had played a key role in supporting the engagement process and evidence had been documented in the Strategy, although the Cabinet Member stated that all recommendations would be noted but not all would be taken on board.
Councillor Woodward stated that the links in the report to the APMG feedback had not been obvious in the report and they would have been useful. The APMG had taken a lot of resource and it was felt that it was a shame that the recommendations were not taken on board. The Member also asked when the APMG report would be considered and their recommendations taken on board? In response, the Cabinet Member agreed to share the links with Members. The Strategy was not aspirational enough as it seemed to endorse the status quo. She considered that schools had not been effectively consulted with.
A Member asked if the views of those young children most directly involved in the service delivery had been collected. Also, at what stage were the CCG and Stoke on Trent City Council at with their ratification process. In response, the Committee were informed that the Strategy had been approved by all the CCGs, but not their Joint Commissioning Board. Stoke on Trent City Council were due to take it to their Committees in the New Year. Regarding the young people consulted, they were generally receiving Tier two services and views were fed in via the performance management arrangements and local commissioning arrangements. The views of Looked after Children and Care Leavers were taken on board as part of the review arrangements and their views had been fed into the Strategy.
A Member asked how this would interface with the Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) Strategy, particularly from a safeguarding point of view. In response, the SEND Strategy would form part of the overall Education Strategy. It was important however, that they do link and the Committees’ comments would be taken on board.
A Member hoped that the comments raised today would be taken on board. In response, the Cabinet Member was happy to continue to work with Scrutiny Committees to develop the Strategy and delivery plans.
The Corporate Review Committee deliberated on the Cabinet report of the 21 November 2018, and the Decision taken which was:
i. Acknowledges the aspiration outlined in this approach.
ii. Acts as champions to raise awareness of the impact of poor emotional wellbeing and mental health.
iii. Endorses the partnership approach in addressing these needs.
It was moved and seconded that the decision is taken back to the Cabinet and it looks at the issues raised and makes them more explicit in the Strategy. A vote was taken, and this proposal was lost (2 votes for and 8 against).
It was proposed and seconded that the decision be allowed to proceed as set out in the Decision Notice. A vote was taken, and this vote was carried (8 votes for and 2 against).
RESOLVED That the decision is implemented as set out in the original Decision Notice.